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This chapter is all about Emma's other relationships.

Harriet Smith

First up, there's Harriet, of course, who was mentioned at the close of the previous chapter. She was "as desirous as [Emma] to avoid a meeting," and agreed to continue their friendship by correspondence for the time being. Harriet's goodness is shown, not exactly told, since "Harriet expressed herself very much as might be supposed, without reproaches, or apparent sense of ill-usage", though Emma fancied that maybe there was a hint of (well-merited) resentment around the edges.

Emma's plan to send Harriet to London is facilitated by Harriet herself, who had "a tooth amiss". And of course Isabella is eager to be of assistance when there's a health issue, since she is as much a valetudinarian as her father. Emma sets Harriet up in Mr Woodhouse's carriage and off she goes for at least two weeks. What a relief!

Mr Woodhouse and Mrs Weston

Mr Woodhouse still doesn't know about Emma's relationship with Mr Knightley. Emma has decided, however, not to say a word to him until Mrs Weston gives birth and all is well. Emma has decided not to worry about how her father or Mrs Weston will react until such a time as she's ready to tell them what's going on, so she's in a rather light-hearted frame of mind in the meantime.

Jane Fairfax

Emma decides to spend a bit of her time visiting Jane Fairfax. Knowing all of Jane's situation (thanks to Mr and Mrs Weston), she is eager to find out how Jane is and happy to have a conversation with someone else who is happily in love. She is, of course, admitted right away, only to find Mrs Elton holding court. She and Jane catch up a bit on Emma's way out, however, and it seems like the start (finally!) of a real friendship between the two.

Mr and Mrs Elton

It's plain that Mrs Elton had been pissed off at Jane for reneging on her agreement to act as governess for an Elton family friend, and that she is now quite over it because she's been let in on Jane's engagement, which she keeps talking around in front of Emma, believing Emma has no clue. It also becomes quite plain that Mrs Elton has been stranded at the Bates's house by her husband, who is off chasing Mr Knightley on parish business.

Emma demonstrates her superior knowledge of Mr Knightley's schedule, although Mrs Elton brushes her off - only to be surprised when her overheated (in two ways) husband arrives, cranky at not finding Mr Knightley. He managed to run into Mr Knightley's steward, however, who opines (as you can see in the drawing at right) that he doesn't know what's gotten into his master lately. Emma beats a hasty retreat, rather than listen to Mr Knightley being further maligned.

With three chapters to go, and to borrow a line of Austen's from near the end of Northanger Abbey, "my readers . . . will see in the tell-tale compression of the pages before them, that we are all hastening together to perfect felicity."

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 7th, 2013 09:26 pm (UTC)
The very end of that always struck me as being... something. I don't quite know the word, but, something. Significant, maybe? What I mean to say, is that Emma's problem with Jane Fairfax was that she wasn't open enough. Emma likes people who give their opinions outright, and who show their emotions. I don't know why Miss Fairfax was so reticent in her youth, but more recently, it is because she actually had something to hide. She seems much more open, and I, at least, get the feeling that her true personality is much closer to someone that Emma could be friends with. Or maybe I'm just reading into it what I want. The last two words really struck me, because it seems to me that the multiple goodbyes indicate friendliness and good-nature. Mr. Weston uses them, and Miss Bates, and other characters from other books, written around the same time. Almost a trope, really.
Apr. 8th, 2013 02:09 am (UTC)
I think you are entirely correct about Jane now being her more natural self with Emma, and in being more open, she's a better fit for Emma. Also, Emma has put aside her own unreasonable envy of Jane, based on all those glowing reports of how "accomplished" Jane Fairfax always is - it was almost a case of Miss Bates overselling her niece, she was in such a hurry to boast of her successes and such, that Miss Bates was essentially singing "Anything you can do, Jane can do better" - or so it must have felt to Emma. Only now that she has set that aside, and is seeing Jane as she truly is - both because Jane is more herself and Emma is less dead-set against her - they have more in common. Especially in the "we're happy in love" department.

I think the multiple good-byes may represent friendliness - and they bookend a sentence that starts "Thank you, thank you" - there's an implied effusiveness there that seems to indicate how heartfelt the words are.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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